Monday, December 23, 2013

To all those navigating multiple belongings



"[Me] Vivian Ernestine Begay Manion Twostar. Coeur d'Alene-Navajo-Irish-Hispanic-Sioux-by marriage. I liked to think a version of American history was contained in that logjam of names" (11).

"I've read learned anthropological papers written about people like me. We're called marginal, as if we exist anywhere but on the center of the page. Our territory is the place for asides, for explanatory notes, for editorial notation. We're parked on the bleachers looking into the arena, never the main players, but there are bonuses to peripheral vision. Out beyond the normal bounds, you at least know where you're not. You escape the claustrophobia of belonging, and what you lack in security you gain by realizing–as those insiders never do–that security is an illusion. We're jealous of innocence, I'll admit that, but as the hooks and eyes that connect one core to the other we have our roles to play. 'Caught between two worlds,' is the way we're often characterized, but I'd put it differently. We are the
catch.

I could relate to Columbus, stranger to stranger. There he was, no matter what version of his life you believe, pushing and pulling at the city limits of whenever he found himself. An Italian in Iberia. A Jew in Christendom. A
Converso among the baptized-at-birth. A layman among the Franciscans. He spoke all languages with a foreign accent, and his sight was always fixed away from the hearland. He didn't completely fit in, anywhere, and that was his engine. He was propelled by alienation, by trying to forge links, to be the link, from one human cluster to the next. It's no wonder he positioned himself in the Atlantic, on the western horizon. He had to think global because the whole world was the only context in which he was unambiguously a full member" (124).

Michael Dorris & Louise Erdrich


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